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Netanyahu shatters Israel's image

The collapse of Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government makes it time for Israelis to take stock of the damage he caused to the image of the country, to its moral standing, to its place among the nations, to its future as a Jewish state, to its friends (especially the United States), and to its prospect of living in peace and real security.
- Alon Ben-Meir (Dec 19, '14)

Israel lends al-Nusra a hand in Syria
Israeli air force and artillery have intervened several times to protect al-Nusra Front "safe havens" against fire power from the Syrian government, which is still committed to its ceasefire agreement of 1974 with Israel. Such attacks not only violate Syrian sovereignty and further al-Nusra's position, they also violate also the UN-sponsored ceasefire agreement over the Syrian Golan Heights.
- Nicola Nasser (Dec 19, '14)

Crossroads for terror in South Asia
The abrupt discovery of a resurgent terror network operating from West Bengal and Assam to wreak havoc in Bangladesh and India serves as a wake-up call for New Delhi to more effectively work with Indian states and their neighbors to counter the threat. The evidence points to a clear risk that the northeast of the country will become a safe haven from which new terrorist allies can cross borders to attack.
- Uday Deshwal (Dec 19, '14)

Whither Ukraine's revolution?
Ukraine faces an almost impossible task: carefully balancing its internal contradictions while initiating widespread reforms. To break the cycle of democracy thwarted by violence, officials elected in October will need to devolve power from themselves and their corporate allies, yet it is a particularly challenging time for that.
- Jeffrey Michels (Dec 19, '14)

Pakistan mourns school slaughter

Pakistan has begun three days of national mourning for the 132 children and nine school staff killed in an attack on an army-run school in northwest Peshawar city on Tuesday for which the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said this was "a decisive moment" in the country's fight against terrorism. (Dec 17, '14)

US sees a torturer in the mirror
The reactions of some elements of the United States' ruling class and media to the CIA report on torture are perhaps as disturbing as its revelations on torture dungeons, rectal feeding and rape. The mindset of denial, from "this is not who we are", to "the United States of America is awesome" - fuels the misplaced sense of exceptionalism that has rung through the years. - Ramzy Baroud (Dec 17, '14)

Torture as American
as apple pie

Be shocked, be disgusted, be appalled, but don't be fooled. The Senate torture report, so many years and obstacles in the making, should only be the starting point for a discussion, not the final word on US torture. Practices revealed in the redacted executive summary of the report, remain as American as apple pie.
- Rebecca Gordon (Dec 17, '14)

Go west, young Han
If everything happens according to plan (and according to the dreams of China's leaders), the "New Silk Road" will become the project of the new century and the greatest trade story in the world for the next decade. Washington may be intent on "pivoting to Asia", but Beijing has its own plan to pirouette to Europe across Eurasia.
- Pepe Escobar (Dec 17, '14)

Solutions trump ideology in India
Wide-ranging disquiet over inequality has in recent times converged with the electoral triumph of the economic right in two of the world's largest democracies, the United States and India. In South Asia at least, the result was down to Prime Minister Narendra Modi offering the practical-minded electorate solutions to the endless problems of inequality. Ideological alignment counted far less.
- Abhirup Bhunia (Dec 17, '14)

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Raining on the Umbrella Revolution

After two months of bitter argument and division, Hong Kong's streets are clearing as police tear down the last sites of pro-democracy protests that ultimately failed to capture the wider public's imagination. However, the collective mind of this city remains occupied by conflict and distrust, and that is not going to change any time soon.
- Kent Ewing (Dec 15, '14)

Iran poised on a slippery slope

The Iranian government's portrayal of the extension of nuclear talks - which are set to resume on Wednesday - as a diplomatic victory is a deception to the Iranian people. Rather than put Iran on a firmer footing, President Hassan Rouhani and his negotiators have exposed the country to years of continued sanctions and tactics by the United States and its allies to avoid honoring their promises. - Ismael Hossein-zadeh (Dec 15, '14)

The view from Tehran
The extension to the timetable for Iranian nuclear talks at least buys time for both sides to better understand the other. Yet with Sunni militancy on the march and neoconservatism poised to reassert itself in US foreign policy, Tehran sees itself again in danger. Its nuclear program will remain based on its security assessments, not on the pressures of the international community.
- Brian M Downing (Dec 15, '14)

A deal is within grasp
The US-Iranian negotiations for a nuclear deal are slated to resume amid growing optimism that this could be the end of the year-long endgame, and an accord is in sight, finally. US Secretary of State John Kerry recently said that the effort will be to reach an accord even before the extended deadline of end-June.
- M K Bhadrakumar (Dec 15, '14)

Drill, baby, drill in the South China Sea
The United States has quietly ditched its underperforming pretext for confrontation in the South China Sea - its strategic interest in freedom of navigation - and is sidestepping into a new justification. It is taking the position that China is improperly denying US interests their fair access to potential energy riches under the sea-bed. - Peter Lee (Dec 12, '14)

CIA torture: the future starts here

A recently released CIA report repeats many facts about US torture that are already in the public domain, but unless the Obama administration uses it to prosecute those responsible as international law requires, there is little to prevent a future president from using torture again. - John Sifton (Dec 12, '14)

Pentagon: Obama's great white whale
President Barack Obama's dream of a world without nuclear weapons met its great white whale - the Pentagon - and was somehow transformed into the renewal of the American nuclear force. The hopes dashed, promise sunk, and the world set for another century on the road to "nuclear perdition" is a sad Christmas story.
- James Carroll (Dec 12, '14)

Northeast India needs a Yoda

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled an investment plan to drive the development and connectivity of India's poor northeastern region as part of the vision of India as a "gateway to Asia". The immediate challenge is to provide personal leadership to resolve issues that have plagued the region. For that, Modi needs to build much more than a synthetic sense of unity. He needs a greater force to be with him.
- Namrata Goswami (Dec 11, '14)

The cleansing of a nation
A "clean India" campaign that is being fervently supported by Narendra Modi seems an apt allegory for a cleansing underway in politics and education of any people or group that doesn't suit the Hindu nationalist revival agenda being pursued by his government. The mission to "regain national pride" could be glorious - if it wasn't based on an imagined history of India.
- Samir Nazareth (Dec 11, '14)

Kurdistan stays its hand, for now
Kurdistan, after being on the brink of full independence a few months ago, now looks like it will stay within the Iraqi political framework. The threat posed by the Islamic State required cooperation, and plummeting energy prices have helped force an oil-revenue sharing deal with Baghdad that gives Kurds a stake in the south's exports. Still, rising Kurdish assertiveness brings the intriguing prospect of a "greater Kurdistan".
- Brian M Downing (Dec 11, '14)

Libya: Be careful what you wish for
The United States-led NATO blitz of aircraft and missile strikes against Muammar Gaddafi's government has been described as a "model intervention" that ushered in an era of unprecedented freedom for Libyans. What actually transpired was the unintended creation of a regional new epicenter for terror, where daily assassinations, kidnappings and militia conflict are ruining the lives of millions of people who had lived securely under Gaddafi.
- Brian Cloughley (Dec 11, '14)


Jiangsu teachers
stage protest

Hundreds of laid-off teachers converged on government buildings in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu demanding better pensions and health insurance. and protesting at the government's refusal to honor promises to give them civil servant status.

Usmanov does good
by Nobel laureate

Tycoon Alisher Usmanov has purchased US scientist James Watson's Nobel Prize gold medal - price $4.8 million - only to return it to the 86-year-old DNA researcher. The tycoon, who amassed his first fortune making plastic bags, has a thing or two that makes him stand out of the crowd of other oligarchs. - Farangis Najibullah

Oil free market is
bad news for US

For the first time since 1972, there is no cartel able to control the oil market. At first sight that looks like excellent news for America's consumers. However, it locks the US into being the world's high-cost producer of a major commodity, and its bonanza from fracking may be about to go into reverse.
- Martin Hutchinson

thaw faces acid test

These are early days to be conclusive that the Peshawar school attack by Pakistan Taliban on Tuesday would be turned into a game-changer by Pakistan's civil and military leaderships to work together to crush the militant groups. - M K Bhadrakumar

[Re: Turning tables on North Korea, Nov 17, '14] Xi Jinping's haughty treatment of Barack Obama during the recent summit in Beijing should indicate that China is not interested in boxing in North Korea.
Junzo Nakamura
   Go to Letters to the Editor

1. Libya: Be careful what you wish for

2. Oil free market is bad news for US

3. Russia, Turkey pivot across Eurasia

4. 'Drill, baby, drill' in the South China Sea

5. The cleansing of India

6. Kurdistan stays its hand, for now

7. Northeast India needs a Yoda

8. Usmanov does good by Nobel laureate Watson

9. CIA torture: the future starts here

10. War by media and the end of truth

(Dec 12-14, 2014)


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